Unitas: Towards a Holistic Understanding of Knowledge in Organisations … A Case Based Analysis


  • Dr. Rebecca Purcell
  • Dr. Jamie OBrien


Organisational Knowledge, Knowledge Based View: Knowledge Strategy, Knowledge Framework, Case Analysis


The aim of the paper is to present a holistic framework of knowledge in organizations. The language of duality and opposites dominates much of the knowledge based literature, whereby knowledge and knowing in organizations are framed as an either/ or discussion (Schultze and Stabell, 2004). This paper questions the usefulness of continued proliferation of such an approach, given the maturing nature of the field of knowledge management, and the ever increasing implementation of knowledge management activities by firms. The paper calls for a more unified interpretation of knowledge in organisations, which reflects the reality of the complex nature of knowledge and knowledge across the multiple levels of the firm. Hence the paper seeks to make a contribution by carrying out a multi case study of knowledge and knowing in organisations at multiple levels of analysis (that is at the individual, group and organizational level), with a view to supporting a unified framework on knowledge in organisations. The resulting framework is titled, Unitas, a conceptual framework on knowledge in organisations. The research was carried out in four case firms, across two industries, these beingmedical devices and pharmaceuticals. Fifty nine interviews were conducted, in tandem with documentation analysis, and observations. The resulting findings were analyzed using an interpretivist position. The paper concludes that multiple perspectives on organisational knowledge and knowledge activity are evident in the case organisations at three main levels of analysis, namely the individual, group and organizational levels. The Unitas framework presents four knowledge positions which are all concurrently active in organizations. The main contribution of the Unitas framework on organisational knowledge is that it provides a holistic interpretation of knowledge and knowing activity in organizations.



1 Aug 2015